Barca Striker Villa Breaks Leg In Japan
Barcelona and Spain striker David Villa broke his left leg during his side's 4-0 Club World Cup semi-final victory over Al Sadd of Qatar in Japan on Thursday, ringing alarms bells for his club and country.
"David has fractured his leg and will return to Barcelona for an operation as soon as possible," Barca coach Pep Guardiola told reporters.
"We are all very sad for him. He's a charming personality and it's a massive blow for the team," added Guardiola after the European champions set up a final against Brazil's Santos.
Villa, Spain's all-time top scorer with 50 goals in 81 appearances for his country, fell awkwardly in the first half and immediately signalled to the bench before being rushed to a local hospital in Yokohama.
"He will be out for a long time," confirmed Guardiola. "I don't know how long but it takes a long time to return after a break like this.
"All the players are very worried about David. We hope he will return as soon as possible. Our thoughts are with him and we will have to win the Club World Cup without him."
Spanish and European champions Barca said it was the first injury Villa had sustained since joining the club from Valencia last year.
The news is a major setback for Guardiola as his side pursue titles in the Club World Cup, La Liga, the Champions League and the King's Cup this season.
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque was also concerned as Villa is the country's leading striker looking ahead to the defence of their title at Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.
The 30-year-old played a central role in Spain winning the World Cup in South Africa last year.
"It's very bad news, very unlucky, for him in particular as he is the one who suffered the injury," Del Bosque was quoted as telling Europa Press.
"And thinking ahead to the European championship it is obviously very bad news as well. There is still six months to go. Let's see how he recovers.
"Some return quickly, others take a little longer. First we need to listen to what the medics say."
Messages of support flooded in from team mates. Goalkeeper Victor Valdes said: "It's negative news on what should have been a special and historic day. We will try to dedicate the cup to him in the final."
Spain and Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said on Twitter: "A serious injury for a national team colleague David Villa. Keep your spirits up and stay strong! Return soon champion..!!"